In an ideal world, rehabilitation begins as soon as the survivor is medically stable. No patient should be kept in an acute hospital setting or a nursing home any longer than necessary. Combining the brain’s natural healing process with rehabilitative therapy is crucial to the success of one’s recovery.
We live, however, in the age of managed health care. Rehab dollars are doled out grudgingly by health insurers. Patients sometimes are limited to two weeks of inpatient rehab. Most receive only four to six weeks.
Researchers have learned that survivors benefit most from rehabilitation when they have reached Level 3 or 4 on the Rancho Scale. One of the most agonizing times for me was helplessly watching Jessica suffer the bewilderment of post-traumatic amnesia in an acute ward of the hospital, waiting for her doctor to agree with us that she had reached Level 4.
The value of rehab cannot be overstated. Maddeningly, nearly all survivors do not receive all of the rehab they need to reach their maximum recovery potential. Because of this short-sighted stinginess, all of society pays in two ways: (1) the high cost of caring for a survivor who would be more independent if a few more dollars were spent on her rehab, and (2) the loss of the potential productivity of a fully rehabilitated patient.
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This article on rehabilitation after a brain injury is excerpted from Garry Prowe's book, Successfully Surviving a Brain Injury: A Family Guidebook.
In 1997, Garry's wife, Jessica, sustained a severe brain injury in an automobile crash. "At the time, I spent way too much time accumulating the information I needed, not only to understand the medical aspects of Jessica's brain injury, but also to handle the myriad insurance, financial, legal, personal, and family issues that accompany a serious blow to the brain. I recognized the need — that still exists today — for a book that comprehensively addresses the wide variety of issues families face in the first few months after a brain injury.
"To research this book, I assembled a panel of more than 300 survivors, caregivers, and medical professionals who responded to my email questions and reviewed portions of my writing.
"For us, this project is a labor of love. All profits from the sale of this book will be donated to brain injury organizations."
From Sucessfully Surviving a Brain Injury: A Family Guidebook by Garry Prowe, Brain Injury Success Books, © 2010 Garry Prowe. Used with permission. www.BrainInjurySuccess.org.